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Elections and Democracy in India

As it is said, that Elections are the nuts and bolts of the largest democracy in the world. Democracy and elections are two faces of the same coin. As we all know and we have been studying since our childhood that India is a democratic country with a parliamentary form of government, and in its heart lies the commitment to hold regular, free and fair elections. India being the largest democracy has a very well established electoral system. India sets a brilliant example of gathering more and more people to vote each year despite its immensely dense population, cultural, linguistic and ethnic diverse groups.

Understanding Democracy

The principle of free and fair elections is an essential postulate of democracy, which in turn is a part of the basic structure of the Constitution of India. There is no way in which we can explain democracy accurately. Democracy’s definition of being an open-ended aspect is subject to an ongoing debate. The fundamental function of democracy consists of a government of the majority, which is formed by contesting free and fair elections, giving people their right to vote and respecting their basic rights as citizens and establishing reasonable equality before the law.

Article 324-329 – Election Commission of India

The Election Commission of India is a self-ruling established institution liable for regulating political activities in India at the national, state and local level. The body controls activities of the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, State Legislative Assemblies, State Authoritative Councils and the workplaces of the President and Vice President of the nation. The Election Commission works under the authority of Constitution as per Article 324, and along these lines, as established in Representation of the People Act.

The Commission has the forces, under the Constitution, to act in a suitable way when the established laws make inadequate arrangements to manage a given circumstance in the lead of a political decision. Being a sacred power, Election Commission is among a couple of establishments which work with both self-sufficiency and opportunity, alongside the nation’s higher legal executive, the Union Public Service Commission and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

Types of Elections

Elections are used as an instrument for choosing representatives in a modern democracy. In India, elections determine the credibility of candidates who represent different social parties. In India, elections are held for Members of Parliament in Rajya Sabha, Lok Sabha, Members of State Legislative Assemblies and Local Panchayat or City Council. We have four types of elections:

  • General Elections:
    These take place every five years and elect 543 members for the lower house. These are the most important ones. Every party needs 272 MPs to claim its place in the central government. If it doesn’t have 272 MPs it can join with other parties in order to form a coalition government.  The Leader of the party gaining majority takes oath as the Prime Minister.
  • State Assembly Elections:
    It is the upper house of parliament. It has a term of six years. People of the upper house are not directly elected by people. Members of Legislative Assembly of respective states elect them.
  • Rajya Sabha Elections:
    Its strength depends on the population of respective state. People directly elect for Members of Legislative Assembly. Like, lower house its leader takes oath as Chief Minister.
  • Local Body Elections:
    It is for a smaller geographical area. People directly elect them. They are Municipal Corporations, Municipalities, Panchayats and more.

Why do we need Elections?

Majority ruling government stepped forward with the principal general political decision held in 1951-52 over a four-month time frame. These pursuits were the greatest examination in the majority rules system. The decisions were held dependent on all-inclusive grown-up establishments, with every one of those twenty-one years old or more experienced reserving the option to cast a ballot. There were more than 173 million voters, the majority of the poor, unskilled, and provincial, and having no understanding of decisions. The unavoidable issue at that time was the means by which the individuals would react to this change.

Many were distrustful about such an electorate having the option to practice its entitlement to cast a ballot in a politically develop and dependable way. Some said that the majority ruling system will not fit a multi-strict, unskilled and reserve society like that of India. The upcoming parties were depicted by some as a risk and others as phenomenal and as a demonstration of trust. India’s constituent framework was created by the orders of the Constitution. The Constitution made an arrangement for an Election Commission. It was going to be held by a Chief Election Commissioner, to lead the parties. It was to be autonomous of the Official or the Parliament.

Headquarter of Election Commission of India is located on Ashoka Road New Delhi

There were various boundaries that filled in as hindrance to the execution of the decisions. While there were geographic elements that required infrastructural improvement, there were likewise social factors that added to the tedious undertaking. Numerous ladies didn’t felt much happier in casting votes with their legitimate names and rather utilized their familial relations with their life partners as a recognizable proof factor. The ladies who might not take into consideration their legitimate names to cast votes were excluded from the official democratic roll.

A greater part of the nation’s general public was likewise unskilled, which influenced the political decision process extraordinarily. As referenced before, the polling forms required explicit measures, for example, exceptional images per party, to guarantee that all individuals qualified to vote had the capacity to know who they were deciding in favour of. In spite of each one of these obstacles, in any case, India’s first broad elections were a vast achievement. As a previous British province with lacking infrastructural advancement, huge language obstructions, and scarce financial assets, India had the option to adequately hold a national political decision not so much as 10 years after it acquired autonomy.

Effectiveness and Efficiency of the Election Process in India

The voters and policymakers in India face a smash of data as they consider their decisions in the political pursuit and the needs that lie there. Shockingly, they additionally face a smash of deception and confusion via web-based networking media. In our view, another basic missing component — particularly for a nation like India with large, worldwide goals — is a target assessment of the administration’s presentation in approach zones, for example, resident government assistance, financial development, and working open foundations.

To address this whole, we built up an exhibition assessment structure with three properties: information-driven proportions of progress over an expansive range of approach objectives; progress against a tantamount friend gathering of developing markets; and, given the Indian government’s accentuation on innovation as a strategy driver, benchmarks against worldwide innovation principles set by the world’s most carefully propelled governments.

  • Drawbacks in the election process:

When an individual gets the opportunity to elect candidates after some short time spans, there could be higher possibilities of disadvantages. As we all know lots of money is spent on election campaigns in India. Every time there is some gathering different methods are used to gather attention from the decision-makers, which creates chaos among people in the need to manage the government.

Influence of money is becoming a major concern in the election process. Voters nowadays are becoming the capital market. Scaring the voters, use of muscle power, threatening them to vote for a particular party leads to false and fraud votes. With more and more technical advancements, parties sometimes try to buy news channels which are also known as Paid News. This is clearly becoming an emerging issue of disturbing the economy and social structure of the nation.

  • Anti defection law:
    It wouldn’t be a new term if I talk about the term “Aaya Ram Gaya Ram”. It is a very famous term which Haryana gave to Indian Politics. This term is related to Anti-Defections. Which means political leaders who jump often to other parties or we can call it “Party-Switching”. It refers to when a party is not willing to take up a stand for its own party for a particular issue.

In the year 1967, Haryana held its first-ever Assembly Elections. Gayalal was elected as MLA from Hassanpur assembly seat. After a few hours, when he got elected, Gayalal joined the Indian National Congress. After a few hours, he joined the United Front Coalition and then again Indian National Congress.

Source – NavBharat Times

In a press conference, the Congress Leader addressed Gayalal as ‘Gayaram ab Aayaram hai’. This phrase was taken from the Congress Leader’s one-liners. In 1979, the Janata Party was formed in Haryana. A leader in 1980 joined INC with all the other MLA’s when Indira Gandhi won the Lok Sabha elections.

To avoid this, the Rajiv Gandhi government brought up the Anti-Defection law. INC won 404 seats in the lower house and in view to stemming defection and with this huge majority of voters passed the Amendment Bill, which urged to include Tenth Schedule to enact anti-defection law. It was to stop Party-Hopping.

Only if one-third party signs then only an MLA or a Leader can change parties or else will be held disqualified. It is been followed in India till date and has some exceptions too. Not only in India but also practised across the world. For example, the Australian Government calls it Waka-Jumping.

India; a flawed democracy with regards to the Election process

In India, a dual system of politics is followed the government is made up for central and state boundaries. India is a Parliamentary Democratic Republic, also known as a Federal state. Government is formed by contesting elections every five years. As we have already discussed the electoral system which works in India, it seems to be good enough but despite being a good electoral system India is still named in Flawed Democracies.

The elections contested in India are somewhat like battles. They are strongly fought with money power, muscle power, media etc. What has majorly affected India the most is its religious beliefs. The threats to the minorities and backward classes and violence. News reporters being scared to death, repeated murders in certain areas. The reliability of contesting ‘free and fair elections’, giving people their right to choose their candidates who might actually look into their problems seems to be a flawed concept.

In certain areas, a competitor with low votes can win. The internet-based life circulates around the web and some unnatural and made-up stories on a miniaturized scale focusing on most of the uneducated poor voters partitioned on standing, religion, network, strict practices just as the monetary separation. Decisions show that the vote-offer may have no co-connection with winning seats in light of cross-casting a ballot. Many instructed voters avoid casting a ballot or pick the alternative of “none of the above” showing grief and doubt in finding the correct candidate who genuinely shares their interests and can hope to plan something for resolving their issues. Indeed, even one per cent of votes can have a huge impact on winning or losing. Evidently, these are some clear basic imperfections in the Indian government. Every one of these components has rendered India in the list of flawed democracies.

Where does India stand?

In terms of Electoral Process countries like Norway, Finland, Ireland, Australia etc. are ranked 10 out of 10; on the top of the list of 200 countries. On the other hand, countries like Qatar, Zimbabwe, Vietnam etc. are ranked 0 out of 10 on the basis of the election process held in the world. When it comes to India, India is ranked 8.67 out of 10 and holds 51st position in the Democracy Index.

Election Process in India and in the United States

The democracies of India and the United States are two of the world’s largest democracies. This means that the people in these countries have a say in their nation’s approach and policies. One of the most important part in these democracies is its election process. There are some major similarities and differences between their electoral process.

In the US there are two parties i.e., Republican Party and Democratic party, both are based upon some particular ideologies. Whereas parties like the Green party and the Libertarian party are kind of independent entities.

Whereas in India, Bhartiya Janata Party is the largest party and Indian National Congress comes second. But the only difference in India is that the popular parties differ from state to state. For example- In Tamil Nadu, Congress party and BJP are not so dominant. There, parties like Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) are mostly the dominant one. All of them are based on different ideas.

In US voting could be done through many ways like through electoral polls, ones who didn’t get to vote can vote through mails etc. Whereas in India, we need an appropriate Voter ID and vote through Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) or in some places through Ballot Boxes. In India and the US, autonomous institutions are set up to regulate elections. The US has two such institutions which only finance the election campaign. Whereas, Election Commission of India has the power to control the working, setting up rules and regulations and making elections chaos-free.

Conclusion

The electoral system in India has made some amazing progress in its procedural structure. Be that as it may, on the considerable front, it is yet falling behind as it has its own pros and cons. Due to its large population, different assertions in deprived masses can lead towards some wrong cause. But still, Indian democracy has faced a lot of changes because of its new economic policies. Elections in India have slowly become massive due to its large spread out electorates. The weaknesses in any system of government can be due to its social and economical factors which can always be minimized. It becomes very necessary for the government to take some major steps to minimize these weaknesses and take necessary actions without any delay which would help in improving our democratic system with free and fair elections.

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